In this installment of “What’s Your Power Suit?” dog trainer and author, Victoria Schade, shares what to wear on camera, and anytime you’re stepping outside your comfort zone!
PS: Tell us about yourself and your work.
VS: I’m a dog trainer and author of two books; Bonding With Your Dog: A Trainer’s Secrets for Building a Better Relationship and Secrets of a Dog Trainer: Positive Problem Solving for a Well-Behaved Dog. I’m also a regular article and video contributor for petMD.com and PawCulture.com. You can find me @VictoriaSchade on Twitter, and @LifeontheLeash on Instagram.
PS: Do you have an outfit, item of clothing, or accessory (past or present), that holds some “superpower” for you?
VS: I’m a big believer in “talisman” clothing, so I’ve got quite a few pieces that I think have superpowers. I call them my archive outfits, and they include candy-colored suits from my corporate days in high tech (Hello, super-short Ally McBeal skirts!), a plaid mini that my grandmother sewed for me that made me feel like a Vogue model and took me all over Europe during my semester in London, and a printed sarong that I got during my honeymoon in Antigua and wound up wearing during African dance classes many years later!
One piece in particular stands out, though…it’s in my storage closet, and every time I see it I think, “Hell yes, I did it!”
It’s a slim-fitting powder blue zip-front cardigan with a stand up collar by Lucky Brand that I bought over 11 years ago.
I wore that cardigan during a defining moment in my career, and because of that fact the sweater is imbued with a heavy dose of girl power. It’s just a basic cotton/nylon mix with a little bit of stretch. But the way I felt in it, and what I was able to accomplish while wearing it, makes it worthy of a place of honor in the archives.
PS: Where were you when your power suit’s “power” became apparent?
VS: I bought the cardigan for a specific purpose: I was creating a puppy training DVD and I needed wardrobe for my first time on camera. I had no idea what I was doing. I had zero background in production, but I had managed to assemble a top-notch crew and put together a decent script for forty minutes of content. (My first ever script, too!) But I was petrified. This DVD was a huge risk!
Wardrobe was the easy part. I knew that I needed bright, happy colors, so I bought a bunch of tops and jeans that I thought would look good on camera.
I started off the shoot in a different light blue top, and I was so nervous as I worked my way through the script that I’m surprised you can’t hear my voice shaking in that scene. We segued into an outdoor scene with an adorable lab puppy, and I selected a petal pink top, only to be told by the cameraman that pink wasn’t my color. Whoops and ouch. I wore it anyway—I didn’t have a substitute—but I’ve never worn that shade of pink since (He was right).
The shoot continued, off and on over the course of a few months. I worked my way through a variety of outfits, until we neared the end of the production. Time for the blue cardigan.
We were shooting a scene about puppy socialization in a local dog supply store. The owner of the shop was a friend, and my husband was making a cameo in the scene. By that point the crew and I were joke-cracking buddies. Everything was flowing.
When I got ready for the scene I felt like the aptly named Lucky cardigan and lace-trimmed cami underneath were really working for me. As I sat down on the couch with an adorable puppy at my side and got ready to roll, it hit me; “I’m really loving this!” Though I enjoyed making the entire DVD, and gained confidence with each and every shoot, that particular scene stands out as a moment when I truly felt in the zone. The blue cardigan is the clothing embodiment of that feeling.
PS: Did learning what to wear on camera inform your overall sense of style and dressing?
VS: I retired the Lucky cardigan right after the shoot because it felt … special. Like a costume from an important play.
I still have a few other noteworthy pieces from that shoot (not the pink top, of course), and I like to look at them and think about how those outfits gave me strength during a really scary point in my career. It’s been over 11 years since that DVD production, and I’ve shot tons of dog training videos since then, along with two seasons of a TV show.
Believe it or not, that cardigan still guides my on-camera wardrobe choices; I know that I can’t go wrong with blue!
PS: Do you use any rules for dressing or building your wardrobe?
VS: I have a new rule for building my wardrobe…no more grey or black.
Although I try to wear happy colors when I’m on camera, I’m usually in shades of grey for my everyday life. I go into autopilot when I shop and just grab anything and everything grey, but that’s so boring. I made a promise to not buy anything somber-colored, and so far I’ve added rose (not petal pink, I learned my lesson), gold, turquoise to my wardrobe. (But I still gravitate to grey!)
PS: What advice—style, goal-hitting, or otherwise—would you like to share with other women?
VS: My advice is simple; don’t be afraid to try something new.
Don’t let the fact that you’ve never done “X” before keep you from doing it!
We live with little electronic libraries in our pockets…the answer to how to do anything—like create a DVD, or crack a complex math theory, or grow organic vegetables—is literally at your fingertips, so there’s no excuse not to step outside your comfort zone and do something amazing!